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Asian American student experiences take center stage

Five TCNJ students shared stories about their experiences as Asian Americans during a special TED Talk-inspired event on April 22. TCNJ’s Pan-Asian Alliance held the campuswide event in response to the ongoing COVID-19 hate crimes and discrimination toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Addy Wong ’21, Brandon Hoang ’22, Alekhya Madiraju ’22, Sayon Park ’22, and Sharon Diao ’23 talked about debunking racial stereotypes, exposing lasting effects of racism, overcoming Western beauty standards, and redefining Asian American identity.

“These student speakers were so courageous and vulnerable to share their stories with us,” said Gabriella Son ’22, one of the event’s hosts. “These five individuals are not tokens of their community. There are so many of us here at TCNJ and beyond who are still waiting to have our voices heard.”

TCNJ President Kathryn Foster also spoke about continuing to press on in the face of adversity while showing courage and resiliency along the way.

“AAPI students at TCNJ, we see you, we hear you, we feel you, and we thank you,” Foster said. “We need your stories and guidance. Your voices help us to see, to confront, and to act, to combat racial hatred, bias, violence, and discrimination, both hidden and overt.”

Nearly 300 individuals attended the online talk. TCNJ’s Asian cultural student organizations, collectively known as the Pan-Asian Alliance, include the Asian American Association, the Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Korean Student Associations, Barkada, Taiko, and Dragonflies.

“We’re all different organizations, but we all have the same core mission. We try to spread that message of love and advocacy and togetherness in our organizations,” says Crystal Tran ’22.

— David Pavlak